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Nemawashi is “a semi-formal but systematic and sequential consensus building procedure in Japan by which the approval of a proposed idea or project is sought from every person in a significant organizational position. For foreigners planning research in Japan, this concept has important implications since the project approval process is more obscure than in many Western countries.” [1]

“Nemawashi cannot be translated into the English language because it contains an aspect of meaning peculiar to Japanese culture.” The closest word in English to nemawashi is pre-arrangement but without the connotation with conspiracy. In Japan nemawashi is usually used as a way of interpersonal communication to gather or sustain current and future relationships. [2]

“According to the Kenkyusha, Kojien and Daijien language dictionaries, the word nemawashi originally comes from Japanese gardening. Ne means root or base, and mawashi means to go around. One to two years before a tree is to be transplanted, the roots are cut circumferentially around the base of the trunk. The tree responds by sending out many new roots that insure the tree's survival when it is later transplanted.” [3]

In practice

Nemawashi is one of pillars of Toyota production system. It refers to preparing for change. Before the change occurs in the company, workers should be prepared. Nemawashi is building consensus around the planned change.

All improtant people should be informed about the change before the official meeting. They should be prepared, not surprised. It helps to keep the face which is very important in Japanese culture.

Nemawashi is one of Lean manufacturing pillars, together with: Heijunka, Poka yoke, Konnyaku stone, Andon, Just in time, Jidoka, Kaizen, Genchi genbutsu, Hansei.

Nemawashi is "a process aimed at incorporating participants' opinions and avoiding potential unhealthy conflicts among members. The advantages of the systems include improved quality of the decision, risk sharing and participant involvement. It is a time-consuming but at the same time responsibility-sharing method." [4]


  1. Fetters M. D. (1995). Nemawashi essential for conducting research in Japan Social Science & Medicine, Vol. 41, Iss. 3, ISSN 0277-9536
  2. Mitsuko Saito (1982) Nemawashi: A Japanese Form of Interpersonal Communication, ETC: A Review of General Semantics, Vol. 39, No. 3
  3. Fetters M. D. (1995). Nemawashi essential for conducting research in Japan Social Science & Medicine, Vol. 41, Iss. 3, ISSN 0277-9536
  4. Haan J., Yamamoto M., Lovink G. (2001). Production planning in Japan: rediscovering lost experiences or new insights? International Journal of Production Economics, Vol. 71, Iss. 1–3, Pages 101-109, ISSN 0925-5273